Digital Technology Evolution Clear at Graph/Converting Expo 2002

Graph Expo and Converting Expo, October 6 - 9, 2002, McCormick Place South, Chicago, IL, USA

CHICAGO, IL, USA—The final day of Graph Expo and Converting Expo 2002...
Digital technology, digital "solutions," "The Digital Evolution"—all of these terms and phrases have been part of the buzz at past graphic art, converting, and package-printing trade expositions and gatherings; they've also been used (maybe overused) in many industry publications and media (PFFC included).

But from the looks of the wide array of digital technology offerings at this year's four-day Graph Expo and Converting Expo venue in Chicago, "digital solutions" —which are driving time and cost out of print production workflows —are not going away any time soon... probably not at all.

PFFC's editors traversed the 380,000 sq ft of exhibit space and, along the way, met with many industry suppliers. Below is a listing of show highlights and links to supplier web pages.

Esko-Graphics Demos Bigger, Faster, CDI Spark XT
At Graph Expo and Converting Expo 2002, Esko Graphics demonstrated its Cyrel Digital Imager Spark XT, an extension to the CDI Spark product line and the latest member of the company's award-winning CDI flexo platesetter family, says the recently merged prepress manufacturer (Barco Graphics and Purup-Eskofot). CDI Spark XT images DuPont Cyrel and other brands of digital photopolymer plates in sizes up to 48 in. x 35 in.

"As digital flexo platemaking spreads throughout packaging pre-production," notes Jurgen Andresen, Esko-Graphics marketing director, "converters in the flexible packaging, label printing, and folding carton printing segments have expressed a need for a compact, easy-to-use, reliable, and affordable computer-to- plate device (CTP). CDI Spark XT offers the 48-inch x 35-inch plate format, the convenient plate handling, the doubled digital imaging speed, and the small footprint these customers have been looking for. The same benefits will appeal to flexo tradeshops producing plates in smaller to medium formats."

In addition to the CDI Spark XT demonstration, Esko-Graphics debuted its platedriver for photopolymer plates at this year's Graph Expo. Dubbed PlateDriver, with the new optical system FreeBeam, the platedriver is designed for imaging violet silver or violet photopolymer plates. Says Christian Erikstrup, CTP product manager at Esko-Grahphics, "We find many thermal plate users are searching for a CTP option that will lower costs. Violet plates are less expensive to purchase and process, and the photopolymer plates can last as long as thermal plates. PlateDrivers configured with our new FreeBeam optics can image either violet silver or violet polymer plates -- it only requires a few on-site changes activated by the platesetter's control software."

According to manufacturer, without baking, violet polymer plates produce 300,000 impressions at least up to 200 line screens, even with UV (ultraviolet) ink. With post baking, they can go beyond one million impresssions. "One of the best features of violet polymer plate technology is that neither the plates or chemistry contains silver, and the plates have similar characteristics as conventional UV plates, so present press conditions can be maintained. In addition, violet polymer plate processing chemistry lasts up to 32,000 square feet (approximately 3,000 square meters) of plate before the processor has to be cleaned and refilled -- about three times longer than thermal technology, and, for the average plate department, this is equal to a free week of processing," adds Esko-Graphics.

More information is available at esko-graphics.com.

Packing Up Creo Packaging Solutions
Creo reports it featured "innovative packaging solutions," including production workflows, remote and hard-proofing solutions, and flexo and offset CTP devices at Graph Expo. The prepress manufacturer's Prinergy Powerpack 2.1 and Brisque Pack worflows were both demonstrated, which both, says Creo, "streamline, automate, and add value to packaging-file production for flexographic, offset, and gravure trade shops and converters."

According to Creo, Version 2.1 of the Prinergy Powerpack workflow includes new features for flexography, including vector distortion and 7.5-degree screening; enhanced trapping and color management features; and integration with the ScenicSoft Pandora packaging and label step-and-repeat solution. (The Pandora solution uses Job Definition format (JDF) to pass step-and-repeat information and job data to the software's workflow.)

In addition to workflow-improving digital technology, Creo demonstrated what it calls "a technology breakthrough" for converters that use spot color inks. "The Spotless solution technology demo comprised Staccato screening for fidelity and continuous tone performance, the six-color workflow of the Prinergy workflow management system, and implementation services provided by the Creo Consulting Services Group. The Spotless technology demonstration shows automatic six-color separation and proofing." This six-color technology will be available next year, adds Creo.

More information about Creo and its "digital solutions" is available at creo.com.

Agfa Previews ApogeeX
Agfa says its digital technology answer for converters asking "How do I manage my increasingly complex digital workflow?" question lies in ApogeeX, which the company says will be available early to mid next year. "ApogeeX encompasses your entire prepress workflow, bringing new productivity to your work centers, new capabilities to your people, and new efficiency to key business processes. It leverages the latest workflow technologies and standards -- including PDF and Job Definition format (JDF) -- to enable your business to succeed."

At Graph Expo this year, Agfa also highlighted Delano, what the company calls "a powerful software solution that puts a set of innovative project-management tools in the hands of your customer service representatives (CSRs)." According to Agfa, Delano streamlines and automates the planning, staffing, scheduling, and tracking of print and publishing products and projects. "And it integrates seamlessly with ApogeeX, creating a new definition of workflow efficiency," adds the prepress product manufacturer.

More information about Agfa's products is available at agfa.com.

RealTimeImage Unveils RealTimeProof Express
RealTimeImage, Inc., manufacturer or remote-proofing software, introduced RealTimeProof Express at Graph Expo 2002. "RealTimeImage Express employs the proofing workflow-management efficiencies of the RealTimeproof.com service, with the ability to stream high-resolution files from a local server. This configuration makes Express suitable for high-production volumes or multi-site companies looking for local streaming with centralized adminstration." Adds the manufactuer, "RealTimeProof shortens correction cycles, minimizes errors, reduces costs and downtime, and improves productivity. It's the first, true, fully digital workflow."


More information is available at realtimeimage.com.

Also Exhibiting Digital Solutions...
Other companies showcasing their products at this year's Graph and Converting Expo (and site links) are listed below.


For a listing of 2002 exhibitors, visit graphexpo.com. More information about other graphic arts and communication venues and trade shows can be found at gasc.org.

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